Texas A&M said Tuesday that redshirt freshman Polo Manukainiu and a friend who was joining the Utah football team this fall were among three people killed in a single-car rollover crash in the high desert of northern New Mexico, stunning both schools just days before fall practices begin.
Manukainiu, a 19-year-old defensive lineman for the Aggies, and 18-year-old Utah recruit Gaius “Keio” Vaenuku were killed, officials from both schools said.
The wreck happened Monday evening on U.S. 550 near Cuba, N.M., about 85 miles north of Albuquerque, as the group of five was returning from Salt Lake City to suburban Dallas.
Alcohol wasn’t involved and it appeared the driver was the only one wearing a seatbelt, investigators said.
Manukainiu and 13-year-old passenger Andrew “Lolo” Uhatafe died at the scene after they were ejected from the vehicle, Gutierrez said. Vaenuku was pronounced dead in an ambulance that responded to the accident.
The driver and his father, Salesi Uhatafe suffered only minor injuries, authorities said. Siaosi Uhatafe was a stepbrother of Manukainiu and, like Vaenuku, also is a Utah recruit.
On Monday, hours before the accident, he tweeted: “22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my.”